Michelle Zhiqing Yang / Sun Staff Photographer

Ithaca and its surrounding towns are home to a variety of farms. In order to comply with COVID-19 health guidelines, some of them have taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of workers and clients.

April 9, 2020

Local Farmers Adopt Stricter Sanitation Measures, Implement Contactless Delivery

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In compliance with COVID-19 safety guidelines, farms local to Ithaca and its surrounding areas have been adapting —  sanitation methods mostly come through two methods: contactless delivery and increased cleaning.

Since the virus can easily spread through person-to-person contact, many farmers organized a place where they could pick up their orders without coming into contact with their customers.

For Ariana Taylor-Stanley, co-owner of Trumansburg’s Here We Are Farm, that place is a tiny gray shed. Taylor-Stanley places her customers’ orders in insulated bags, writes their name on the bag and then places it on a counter for her customers to pick up.

Greg Reynolds, owner of Ithaca-based Glenwood Farms uses similar precautions, especially when it comes to doorstep deliveries.

To distribute their pork and bison meat, a Glenwood Farms worker wears a face cover and sanitizes their hands before placing the order into a brand new bag. The other person delivering the order then sanitizes their hands before taking the bag and delivering it to the customer’s residence.

According to Reynolds, these methods of sanitation make it so that there is no shared contact on any surfaces, limiting the potential spread of the virus.“

The different farm workers agreed that increased sanitation was an important response to the COVID-19 precautions.

Sean Dembrosky, owner of Edible Acres, another Trumansburg farm, tries to limit any possible chance of germs being spread through meticulous cleaning and patience. Edible Acres is a permaculture nursery — the farm produces perennial plants that are generally used for food and medicine.

While Edible Acres workers always wear gloves when working, they do not use antibacterial disinfectant because it damages the plants. Instead, the farmers wash the roots of the plant. Then, the plants are labeled and placed in a container for a few days. Once someone is ready to pick up the plant, they’re wiped off with alcohol and left for another day before they can be picked up.

While farmers have been taking extra precautions, Reynolds said that these measures have also placed a strain on expenses since they now have to purchase more gloves, sanitizers and masks in order to ensure safety of the patrons and the workers.

“We’ve always been very clean. But now we’re cleaning more often more frequently, and the surfaces and everything’s getting cleaned more,” Reynolds said.

While farmers are putting more emphasis on the safety of their customers, some owners are still seeing their businesses flourish.

According to Taylor-Stanley, her farm has seen an increased interest in her produce, and demand for Dombrosky’s plants has “exploded,” which he attributed to the pandemic.

However, other farmers are experiencing declining sales.

Immediate sales at Glenwood Farms have decreased, Reynolds said, but he believed that this is merely because people are responding to social distancing rules by going to public areas less.

In addition to a decrease in sales, Reynolds has been even more cautious about his butchering schedule. In order to ensure he isn’t overproducing meat, he has to be conscious of how the pandemic is impacting his clientele, so he can match the demand.